A Star is Born – Rant/Review

As many of my friends know, I love going to the movies even if that means doing it alone. A lot of people ask how can I choose to go sit by myself in a theater and watch a flick? To that, I ask how can you pay double price for everything, spend an entire film answering questions about the same thing you’re learning first hand, and still enjoy the experience? Okay, movie going on a date isn’t always that bad, but boy have there been one too many bad ones (shout out to the ladies that aren’t that way!). 

So I got out of work early on Monday and headed over to the Cinemark at the Christiana Mall. This was in one way, a treat to myself just because, and in another way a moment to checkout the local theater. I had three choices to settle on: First Man (can’t wait to see it), Venom (Hopefully Sony doesn’t F this up), and A Star is Born (Country music…hopefully better than Country Strong). I settled on A Star is Born mainly because I like a good romance movie and adding in Country Music is a great addition, plus you can’t argue with Bradley Cooper’s acting chops.

As I alluded too, I already had some high hopes for this movie due to my hope that it can do what Country Strong couldn’t. That movie was great in its own way, showing a struggling artist whose held up and falling for a younger up and coming artist. There was great music in the film, some that I still listen to on my playlist, and had a nice list of stars. However, the film felt a little empty in a way. If A Star is Born can match this, hell I think i’d be happy.

Unfortunately, none of this was the case, none of it at all. The movie had some big names in it, which should be great, with the likes of as previously noted Cooper. There was also Lady Gaga, who seemed more human and connectible than before, Sam Elliot, Dave Chappelle, and even Alec Baldwin. The show obviously revolved around the old singer, Cooper, and the new, Gaga, in their up and coming romance and her immergence. A key message trying to be put out during the movie was that music is about the message you want the world to hear, your message, your story. Think of the speech that Johnny Cash got in the movie Ring of Fire when he was auditioning.

While the message was planted nicely and was echoed a lot, the actual story and filming was hard to comprehend. I want to say it was rushed, but the movie itself felt like it could go on forever without ever finding a proper ending. There were far too many scenes where we’d just cut from one and instantly be in another, at another time and or place. If I didn’t know any better, the movie was about a psychotic man who hallucinates a lot.

One example that I can think of is the first night Gaga and Cooper hook up in his hotel room. She runs to the bathroom to clean up, famously showcasing that I guess a woman who’s about to get laid would use a wet cloth to wash their arm pits and their nethers, and then throw the towel on the sink’s faucet -_-. She then comes back to the bedroom to find Cooper passed out drunk when it was time to “get’r dun”. She rushes out to the hallway, finds her gay friend’s room, interrupts him, runs back to her room, and somehow not only did Cooper’s brother in the film, Elliot, make it to the room, he is seen putting Cooper to bed. 

How the hell did he get in the room? Why….why would he be in the room? Your brother just flew an effin woman in a jetplane to his show, brought her to his room, and you’re going to waltz your wrinkly self in there to check on things? Gaga and Elliot never even met before this, why is she not surprised or worried about this fact?

So anyway, Cooper’s passed out drunk in bed, she climbs in, and scene break. It’s now the middle of the night, and she’s being fondled by Cooper in I guess what’s suppose to be a romantic moment. You know, the romance where a girl you met when you were wasted, is found in your bed, she’s asleep, and you decided it’s perfect time to get hanky-panky. This is a Liberal’s greatest moment for a hashtag!

Then we get another scene break. This time the scene changes, it looks like its the morning after, a mere hours later mind you, and they’re eating a “hearty” breakfast. Two fit people, eating 4 plates of eggs and bacon, and a random plate of what I think was either chicken or steak. These two things look totally different, so excuse me for forgetting which is was, but when you see the scene you’ll have the same takeaway of ‘why is there a double serving of breakfast along with a serving of dinner?’

And then scene break again, after he picks her up and takes her to bed once again. ‘You can do it!’ That’s basically what this film is though, a bunch of scene breaks with no transitions between them. If they didn’t say specifically how many days or months have passed, you’d go the entire film thinking that these people met, had sex, got married, she got her stardom, [insert greater spoiler here], and roll credits, all in a matter of a few days.

Even the emotional/human relationship of the characters seems far-fetched and forced to me. One of the biggest take-aways from reviews of the movie seems to point to how real the characters seem. Cooper, like always, gives a great performance that’s believable. I can honestly see him as a has been with a drinking and drug problem. I never liked Lady Gaga, and thought she always lived to the extreme, but she donned a “normal” personality that could also be believed. She has insecurities, she has hopes, she’s in love with someone and even though its a disaster, she stands by him. 

That’s about as great of a review I can give on the characters, everything else just seems ‘eh’. She’s feisty in the beginning for no reason, to the point of punching an off-duty cop, but gets pushed around and treated poorly throughout the rest of the film. Cooper and Elliot’s relationship is suppose to be estranged, but if you removed that from the film, it would have only served to make it better. 

There was a scene where Cooper and Gaga are riding a motorcycle to a concert, but Gaga convinces him to go to his father’s grave as it’s on the way. He arrives, finds out the land which he was buried in has been sold off to a windfarm, and then…..scene break, he’s at the concert. At the concert walking up to Elliot and punches him in the face. A little argument ensues, it’s suppose to be emotional, and all of that, but it just seems so fake. Seriously, there was no point to it.

The last thing I’ll say about the movie is something that I actually find funny given that I’m a guy, though maybe there’s a slew of women who feel the same. Now I like T-N-A as much as the next, but there has to be a natural reason for it. Nudity in films shouldn’t be porn-ified, but should be natural. It and sex is a natural part of our reality, so if a film’s needs it, it should use it to tell the story.

Following this mentality it seemed natural and fitting when the characters first had sex in the film. Gaga’s top came off, they were hooking up, and the scene faded to dark. Natural, elegant, perfectly fine in my opinion.

Contrast to the next nude scene where Gaga is taking a bath and Cooper comes in only to stir the pot of their crumbling relationship. The argument gets heated, and after using the wrong choice of words by calling Gaga ugly, she throws him out of the bathroom. By this, of course, I mean some how goes from laying in a tub of bubbles to standing starch naked yelling at him to leave the bathroom, while the camera gets a full frontal view. Not only did this seem unnecessary to me for the plot, the argument itself was enough, but that’s some super-human skill to be able to stand up that quickly in a tub. Hell, I fall down steps that are less slippery. So bravo on that.

There’s just so much wrong with these issues, which would be minute in my opinion if they were by themselves, that it overcasts on what is a great story. Even going back to that mentioned argument in the tub, it wasn’t like Cooper was saying that she was physically ugly. Throughout the whole film he states over and over how beautiful she is, even though she finds so many flaws in herself (like her nose), but that beauty was also tied to the music and lyrics she was singing.

She was singing originally from the heart, singing her words, and fulfilling what music is all about. She lost a piece of that beauty and became ugly, because she was allowing herself to be sexualized by her new manager. Skimpy outfits, dancers on stage, singing music about big behinds, it wasn’t her anymore but this symbol that her label was making her to be.

The film ended in a sad, yet unfulfilled way. While I’m not going to spoil the twist, the closing scene features Gaga singing a song that Cooper wrote and giving her heart to the performance. There was happiness mixed with pain, true raw feelings being expressed, and for a glimmer of a moment, you saw the woman that Cooper had always seen before. However, then, the film fades to black and the credits roll. You waited throw 2-3 acts for us to find this woman again, and see her get back on track, and it ends abruptly. To make it even worse, there’s only one flashback during this moment. There should be hundreds, this should be her defining moment of clarity, but we’re just left with this one song.

That’s it, I’m done. Let me know how you felt about the movie, because if I don’t stop typing, I’m going to go on as long overdue as the movie itself felt.

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